Answering the call – nine top telephone interview tips

The main objective of a telephone interview is to assess the candidate’s skill-set before selecting them for a face-to-face interview. Again, this is cost-effective for the employer and it is a very efficient way of weeding out weaker candidates, writes LIAM HORAN, CAREER COACH, SLI NUA CAREERS.

Although, telephone interviews focus more on your technical knowledge for the job, there are a number of points that the candidate should be aware of:

1. Ensure that you have a quiet area with no possible distractions. You don’t want your children/housemates etc disturbing you in the middle of your chat. It’s very distracting and you will come across as unprofessional and unfocused.

2. Your tone of voice speaks volumes about your enthusiasm so speak with energy and motivation. This is vital as it is one of the few methods an interviewer can use in determining a person’s interest in the role. Sales trainers often include this as part of their programme when training telesales staff. Energetic voice tones are very infectious and help to connect you to your speaker.

3. Another part of sales training is to smile when you talk. This is very important when talking on the phone. This does not mean grinning but smiling speaks volumes about you and illustrates to the interviewer that you are enthusiastic. This is infectious.

4. Research is vital here – have your notes in front of you and have your homework done. Do not have reams of notes in front of you as you will get flustered if you cannot read them clearly – jot down key bullet points in front of you. Lack of research tells the interviewer that you have little interest in the role. This is equally important in face to face interviewers and is a fundamental basic so should never be overlooked.

5. Speak clearly to the interviewer. In Interview situations, people can get anxious and stagger over their words or talk too fast. Relax, take your time and answer each question carefully.  Deep breathing is very effective here, take a few deep breaths before you talk.

6. Always be professional. The interviewer is assessing your skills right from the start of the conversation. This is also applicable when arranging your venue etc for a face-to-face Interview. Be professional and polite and enthusiastic at all times. All interviewers are making judgements on their candidates even when they are talking about mundane issues. Inappropriate humour and comments should not be included here.

7. Have a list of your Unique Selling Points in front of you. What are these? These are your career ‘highlights’ or your key achievements. These points will help differentiate you from other candidates. These points are very important as they help sell you to the interviewer. Most importantly, they can really make a lasting impression with the interviewer.

8. A very interesting technique used by some is to stand when taking the phone call. This alters the sound and energy of your voice. It also helps project your voice and helps you sound more assertive.

9. Ask your friends/family how you come across on the phone. Without realising it, we can talk too fast, be unclear or sound disinterested. This information can really help you improve in your communication skills. Although you have the added advantage of not seeing the interviewer face-to-face, this can also be a disadvantage as the interviewer is judging you solely on your voice. Your voice is a powerful tool – it brings words to life and adds meaning to uncertainty. Use it to your best ability.

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